- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 21, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - St. Paul school officials said Wednesday they are disturbed by allegations that a former janitor engaged in improper behavior with students in recent years.

The remarks come as Walter Happel, 62, faces new charges. Happel resigned from his job at Linwood Monroe Arts Plus school in February after authorities began a criminal investigation into his behavior.

In a statement, St. Paul schools CEO Michelle Walker said the district is “very concerned and disturbed” by the allegations.

“Our schools are meant to be a safe place for all learners,” Walker said. “We are sorry and feel terribly that this happened, though we know this is nothing compared to how our families feel.”

Walker said the district has been cooperating with St. Paul police, the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1kqBpz4 ) reported.

In March, Happel was charged with peeking at an 11-year-old boy in a bathroom stall at Linwood Monroe. That prompted other alleged abuse victims to contact police, according to seven new criminal complaints filed Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court.

Walker said Wednesday that the Happel case is prompting the district to revise its reporting and communication practices. While licensed school administrators, as well as teachers, are required to comply with mandatory reporting requirements, Walker said all licensed and nonlicensed employees will now participate in training twice a year to ensure they understand those obligations.

Happel was charged Tuesday with various counts of criminal sexual conduct and four counts of surreptitious interference with privacy. Happel was charged in March with surreptitious interference with privacy for the Feb. 19 incident at Linwood Monroe, which the school reported to police.

Five of the new cases involve students from Linwood Monroe. Happel began working for the district in 1984.

Bail for Happel is set at $245,000, and he remained in jail Wednesday. Online court records do not list a defense attorney.

___

Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide